Common Fraud Techniques Used in Affiliate and Advertisement Networks
What is Affiliate Fraud?
Affiliate fraud is a form of advertising fraud that refers to any fake or deceitful action taken in order to collect illegitimate commissions from a marketing affiliate program. Affiliate fraudsters have found ways to make money by scamming affiliate programs over the years.
Common Forms of Affiliate and Ad Network Fraud
Let’s take a look at a few common forms of fraud affecting both affiliate and advertisement networks today.
We mentioned click fraud in our previous posting, but due to its relevance to this subject, we think it deserves another mention. Simply put, click fraud is when a number of fraudulent clicks are made on an advertiser’s banner ads or paid text links with the intention of driving up the amount of payable clicks. By doing so, the site that’s providing the advertisement space will be owed a greater pay out than it would have otherwise been due if the numbers had not been skewed. To achieve a fraudulent high click count, people will either employ the use of an online bot that is programmed to click on the click-through ads, or use automated software. And then you have the truly dedicated and less tech-savvy fraudsters who will take the time to click the banner ads and paid text links manually.
Cookie stuffing is another example of common fraud tactics that affect affiliate networks. It’s so common because it’s very easy to pull off and, as with all things, it continues to grow more sophisticated by the day. To explain, cookie stuffing is when a publisher forces cookies onto a customer without prompting any action on the customer’s side. By utilizing a single pixel iframe, a publisher has the ability to force a cookie onto the customer as soon as they visit the publisher’s site. With this method, the customer doesn’t need to click on anything; rather, the cookie is triggered without the customer ever noticing. The idea behind cookie stuffing is that it gives the publisher credit for the customer’s next purchase, resulting in publisher payments.
We’ve all probably experienced it at some point while browsing the internet…Typosquatting. This is when a fraudster capitalizes off of a customer’s misspelling of a popular brand name. Essentially, when a web address for a popular brand is misspelled, the fraudster will have that misspelling redirect to the popular brand name’s official site, however, doing so through an affiliate link. While this may not sound like much of a big deal, it is, because it’s not a genuine click through-traffic brought to an advertiser via the site that they are paying to advertise on — which isn’t exactly honest, now, is it?
It is extremely important as an affiliate network to take the proper steps to ensure you are avoiding click fraud, cookie stuffing, and typosquatting. Also, try to avoid working with affiliates or publishers that have already been flagged as potential fraudsters. One way of blocking fraudsters is using automated affiliate and publisher management systems such as Tipalti’s Risk Management Module, which identifies previously detected fraudsters in your network, alerting you and preventing you from making payments to them.
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